Romantic Novelists' Association

Ask An Industry Expert: Editor Kate Bradley

27 July 2018

Today we welcome editor, Kate Bradley, to the blog to tell us about her role and what she looks for in submissions.


Please could you start by telling us what your current role is and what it involves?

I am a senior commissioning editor working on the Women’s Fiction team at HarperFiction. Part of my role is quite traditional, working with agents to find new authors that will compliment an established list such as ours. I also work closely with Publishing Director, Charlotte Ledger who runs the HarperImpulse Digital First list and I support her in finding authors who will work well on e-book. We have found a lot of our authors amongst the talented members of the RNA. I also work on commissioning bespoke projects and finding authors who can write them for us. My job is really diverse and I love the variety.


What type of submissions are you personally looking for at the moment?

It’s no secret that I love the Romance and Historical genre. The market is always very competitive but I’m always open to great combinations of laughter and tears. Specifically, at the moment, I’m looking for authors who can help me with the bespoke projects I’m working on. That is, we have an idea or a concept and we need good writers to help us bring them to life. Pen for hire, as it were.


Is there anything you or your publishing house wouldn’t accept right now?

Writers often believe that might be the case, that Regency romances or Erotic fiction are out of fashion, but something always comes along to buck the trend, so I have to say no.


Writers often have to grab an editor or agent’s attention in only a synopsis and a few opening pages. Can you give our members any tips on how to grab your attention in such a short submission?

Make everything your send as good as it can be – the best chapter and the sharpest synopsis; think carefully about what you want the reading experience to be for me – if you want me to fall in love with your heroine, then make sure she is at her best. If you want me to laugh, make it funny, etc. etc. It sounds obvious, but harder than you think. It’s really easy to overthink things but editors can always tell if something is good even if what they see isn’t perfect, but that shouldn’t stop you trying to make it so.


And what about the synopsis? Do you have any tips for writing a really good one?

Keep it to one side of A4 and think of it a bit like a movie trailer. What a commissioning editor wants is a headline overview, something to whet their appetite. Try and keep a little mystery as well; will they / won’t they will make us want to read on. We’re just readers at heart and want to be surprised.


You recently came to the RNA Conference. What did you most enjoy over the weekend?

Meeting my friends from the RNA and having a giggle over a drink. I also always enjoy seeing Barbara Erskine – she’s one of our authors and we love her.


Can you tell us the last published book you read which you enjoyed and why?

I read books I love all the time and I can’t pick one!  I love Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, as does the rest of the universe and it’s a book we are all really proud of at HarperCollins. One book I read recently that I love which isn’t published by us, is by Kay Brelland and it’s called A Sister’s Bond, everything Kay does is magic.


Kate Bradley was talking to Alison May. Alison May is a novelist and short story writer. She writes romantic comedies and emotional fiction. Alison has been shortlisted in the Love Stories and RoNA Awards. She is also qualified teacher with a degree in Creative Writing and runs novel writing workshops and courses. Alison is current Vice-Chair of the RNA.

Along with Janet Gover, Alison also writes as Juliet Bell.

You can find out more about Alison on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.